Firewood threatening Lord Jagannath temple

Kolkata: The National Green Tribunal has been moved by an environmentalist to protect Lord Jagannath Temple of Puri from pollution caused by burning of firewood for cooking of 'prasad' and cremation.

"The 'Mahaprasad' of Jagannath Temple is cooked in firewood ovens. Such rampant use of firewood for cooking besides cremation at Swargadwar by the sea adds tremendously to the city's pollution load, which ultimately will affect the temple structures," eminent environmentalist Subhas Dutta said in his petition.

Dutta has also appealed to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urging him to either relocate Swargdwar cremation ground to a distant place or ensure install an electric crematorium if it cannot be done on sentimental grounds.

"Electric crematorium should be set-up there and burning of dead bodies through open flame must be restricted," Dutta said in his appeal.

The kitchen of Sri Jagannath Temple can cater food for one lakh people everyday.

"Such a huge kitchen is operated using fossil fuel like firewood. This creates environmental hazards by spreading smoke in the vicinity of the temple and also causes considerable deforestation. Such a practice cannot be allowed simply in the name of religion," said the Kolkata-based activist.

Dutta suggested that eco-friendly fuel like LPG should be used for cooking inside the temple premises.

Among other pleas he has sought conversion of one km radius around Jagannath Temple into a vegetarian zone and declaring Puri a world heritage zone.